Carpathia III: Episode 141: The Portal

The Ruined City

The group could have explored the ruined city for months or even years and still find new things to discover. Nevertheless, after just a couple of days, it was time to move on. There wasn't much spare room in their packs for artifacts, but nevertheless, they took a few along with them. Jaze, of course, kept the tiger librarian doll. Artemis stashed away several computer parts he found in various places. Others mostly snatched up decorative items and toys before leaving.

It took an entire day to traverse at least the visible part of the city. Gradually, the buildings became shorter and shorter. At one point, only the occasional roof showed from under the sand and then, once again, there was nothing but rippled sand stretching out before them. The journal suggested there was just a few more days left of traveling. Food was not going to be a problem, but Kaoru was having more difficulty pulling water because now several feet of sand separated him from the ground. With Adell's help, he was able to draw enough water to fill the bottles again. After that, they decided to camp for the night.

With such a large group, there were two campfires. Reuli, Wolfram, Roose, Kagurain, and Aten sat around one while the rest were around the other, nibbling at their jerky and Toma at his dried fruit chips. Azrael sat between the two groups, keeping a watchful eye on both.

Kaoru: So, what are you going to do if we get back?

Kaoru scanned the group, indicating that the question was meant for all of them. Jaze sighed and answered first.

Jaze: Honestly, I just want to sleep in my own bed, eat my dad's cooking, and listen to my mother's goofy stories.

Toma: And let your mother tie ribbons in my ears again.

Jaze shifted on the ground and pulled his shoulders in tight.

Jaze: Heh. I'm still a little embarrassed about that.

Toma reached up and pinched Jaze's ear.

Toma: It's okay. It was kind of fun.

Jaze rested his head on Toma's shoulder as Artemis offered his thoughts.

Artemis: First thing I'm going to do is work on a new power source for Phobos and Deimos. I know I don't want them to be nuclear anymore and I don't think they want to be either.

Phobos: Can we have rocket boots?

Deimos: And laser guns!

Artemis grimaced while everyone else giggled.

Artemis: The idea is for you not to be weapons anymore!

Jaze: What about you, Adell?

Adell grinned and answered without hesitation.

Adell: Lots of sex.

Immediately, Adell felt a slap across his face.

Artemis: Not without me, pervert.

Adell: Hee hee. Of course.

Ryuu was next to offer his thoughts.

Ryuu: I guess I'll have to go the dragon queen. I have a lot to show her.

The others looked upon Ryuu with interest.

Kaoru: Oh, so dragons have a queen?

Ryuu: It's more of a ceremonial position. We don't really have a government at all.

Jaze: By the way, Ryuu, about that. I'm fine with you sharing my memories with others, but... um...

The others waited for Jaze with anticipation, but he simply stopped and pressed his thumbs together.

Adell: Spit it out, Jaze.

Jaze took a deep breath and blurted out his next words with great haste, as though eager to get it over with.

Jaze: Just leave out all the parts that involve my penis, okay?

Several in the group snorted, trying to stifle their giggles, though most nodded just the same. Adell looked around at the others nodding and offered his own contrary opinion.

Adell: Well, you can show my penis all you want, Ryuu.

The others expressed their complete lack of surprise by nodding again.

Jaze: What about you, Kaoru?

Kaoru suddenly looked down and squirmed where he sat.

Kaoru: Um... yeah, I've been wanting to ask you about that...

Kaoru's voice trailed off as Jaze's ears swiveled to face him.

Kaoru: I know it's a lot to ask, but... Can we stay with you?

Jaze's ears now stuck straight up on his head.

Kaoru: Me, Quilyon, Reuli, Zet, and Wolfram... It's okay if you say no. I'll understand.

Jaze rubbed the back of his neck for a moment before responding.

Jaze: Well, yeah, I'm sure my parents would be fine with that.

Kaoru laughed nervously.

Kaoru: Heh, thanks. It's just that my parents wouldn't be happy to have a bunch of people suddenly moving in.

Jaze nodded knowingly.

Jaze: Yeah, I get it. Don't worry. We'll make it happen. With my brother and sister already moved out, we should have loads of room.

Cutting off the somber conversation, Kagurain suddenly ran into the middle of the camp, completely naked, and ran in circles around the fire.

Kagurain: I am the fartmeister! I am the fartmeister!

Just as suddenly as he arrived, he ran off, past Azrael and back to the other campfire. With raised eyebrows, the others looked over at the camp they had been ignoring. There, Kagurain was already putting on his underwear and Reuli, Wolfram, and Roose were collapsed on the ground, in various states of undress, laughing. A very puzzled Aten looked on.

Quilyon: What are you doing over there?!

It took some time for Reuli and the others to compose themselves before they could answer.

Reuli: We were playing a game. Kagurain lost.

Quilyon sighed and rubbed her forehead while Adell turned his attention to Azrael.

Adell: Azrael, aren't you supposed to warn us about this sort of thing?

Azrael responded with no hint of emotion or remorse.

Azrael: There was no danger.


One particularly unrestful night later, the group prepared to move on. Jaze yawned as he packed his satchel.

Kaoru: Still sleepy?

Jaze: This is going to sound weird, but I swear the ground was making noises all night.

Kaoru: Not weird. I'm glad you said it. I could hear it too.

With uneasiness, the group set out once again and it wasn't long before it became clear that neither Jaze nor Kaoru were imagining things. Before the day was out, the grinding of rock beneath their feet was unmistakable and small tremors accompanied it. The further onward they pressed, the more frequent and more powerful the tremors became. Adding to the ominousness was the dark clouds that swirled above them, seeming to coalesce in the far distance.

After another restless night, they set off again, and it wasn't long before the tremors became a constant and the ground was visibly heaving in waves as though they were walking on the sea. With the ground no longer solid, it became common for the group to get their feet stuck in the many cracks that formed beneath them.

Kaoru: Adell, I think it's time for you to do your thing.

Adell responded as he pulled his foot out of yet another crack that opened up beneath him.

Adell: Yup, I was thinking the same thing.

Adell adopted a wide stance and held his hands to his sides. Then, he thrust his arms forward and the ground in front of them suddenly calmed, forming a flat road ahead.

Adell had to repeat this action many times as the group pressed on. Finally, they came to a ridge where everyone stopped. Peering down the slope of jagged rocks and wide crevaces, it was clear that their destination was finally at hand.

Commissioned art in this episode from:
Atomic Clover

All city pictures from SimCity 4

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